Stoneleigh, near Villanova University and once coveted by public and private investors, is now a quiet attraction for nature lovers, writes Charles J. Adams III for The Reading Eagle.
“Stoneleigh: a natural garden,” is located in a ritzy area and is protected behind stone walls and spiked gates, and while teeming with natural beauty, it’s not exactly a garden.
“It is a pleasant pastiche of pathways, patches of dense forest, broad open lawns, and gentle terraces that extend from the Gothic mansion,” writes Adams.
Visitors will be able to see a circle garden, a rockery, bogs, follies and meadows. They are encouraged to stop and have a picnic on the grounds, as long as they clean up after themselves.
The property is covered in features designed to attract and bring out the beauty of the area’s natural wildlife, including a wide variety of songbirds.
“From a seat on the comfortable Adirondack chairs on the broad deck of the mansion, visitors may relax and relive in their imaginations the glory days of Stoneleigh when it was the estate of a succession of successful industrialists,” writes Adams.
Pennsylvania railroad vice-president Edmund Smith, commissioned the construction of Stoneleigh in 1877. More than 30 years later in 1900, United Gas Improvement Co. President Samuel Bodine purchased the property and oversaw construction of the current mansion. Bodine hired multiple landscaping companies to redesign the properties into much of what still exists today.
The next owner of the property was Otto Haas, who kept Stoneleigh in the family for over 80 years. The Haas family donated the property to Natural Lands in 2016 with the intention that it would remain preserved forever. Stoneleigh was opened to the public in 2018.
For more information read the complete article at readingeagle.com